Understanding the Materiality of Suspicion

Affective politics in MENA cities

Authored by: Mark LeVine , Maria Frederika Malmström

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:


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Mark LeVine and Maria Frederika Malmström present in their chapter a method for studying the dynamics underlying the uncertainty and ambivalence at the heart of the urban experience, exploring suspicion as an embodied experience and sentiment of urban life in societies that are in the midst of intense social and political conflict. They focus on how people’s interactions with familiar materialities, the fleeting and mutable sentiments of suspicion and the larger social contexts to which they open up can be taken into account in all their complexity. With evidence presented from three cities in the Middle East – Cairo, Gaza City and Baghdad – their research explores the affective dimension of the material urban experience. They understand cities to be like “roiling maelstroms of affect”, where quanta of affect move between people like “viruses that hop”, becoming more contagious and thus often more forceful in urban settings where people live in proximity.

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